Nevis observes International Day of Older Persons

NIA Charlestown Nevis — The following is an address by Junior Minister in the Ministry of Social Development Hon. Hazel Brandy on the occasion of International Day of Older Persons 2014

On December 14, 1990, the United Nations General Assembly designated October 1st as the International Day of Older Persons, following on initiatives such as the Vienna International Plan of Action on Ageing, as well as the World Assembly on Ageing and so, on October 1st 1991, the first International Day of Older Persons was observed

International Day of Older Persons is dedicated to honour, respect and care for the world’s elderly. Research has shown that in the next 50 years, the number of older person in the world is expected to reach the 2 billion mark. Today, one person in 10 is aged over 60.

Such a major demographic change will present huge challenges. Therefore, The International Day of Older Persons aims to raise awareness of the impact of an ageing population and the need to ensure that people can grow old with dignity and continue to participate in society as citizens with full rights.

Older people make major contributions to society, through volunteer work, transmitting experience and knowledge, helping their families with caring responsibilities and participating in the paid labour force.

The theme of this year’s 24th commemoration of the International Day of Older Persons on October 1st is “Leaving No one behind: promoting a society for all.”

Living up to this principle of “Leaving No-One Behind”, necessitates the understanding that sustainable development and population dynamics will shape the key developmental challenges that the world is confronting in the 21st century.

Therefore, not addressing older persons means not addressing 20 percent of the global population. If our ambition is to “Build the Future We Want”, we must, therefore, address the issues affecting the population aged over 60.

Here in Nevis, as we join with the millions throughout the world to celebrate the International Day of Older Persons, we recognise the contributions that our seniors have made and continue to make in the development of our island.

Many of their contributions may never be lauded and or documented but the evidence is visible for all of us to see. We see it in the construction of our roads and buildings, in the development of agriculture, in the strides we have made in health and education, in Culture and many other areas, are all here as indicators of their valuable contributions.

Today, as we celebrate with the many older persons throughout the world and especially those in our Federation, I wish to commend the efforts of the Ministry of Social Development and the Department of Social Services Seniors Division who have continuously developed programmes and organised activities to celebrate our older persons throughout the year.

To further highlight our seniors, the entire month of October has been designated as the month of Older Persons and many activities are being organised just for this special group.

During the month, our seniors will be featured on morning devotions on the radio, as well as in the schools; they will also be featured on talk shows sharing their experiences with the younger generation.

I am further pleased to report, that the initiative launched last October by the Nevis Island Administration and spearheaded by the Ministry of Social Development, to subsidise electricity and water is now benefitting over 250 seniors aged 65 years and over who are living alone.

This initiative has brought well needed relief to our seniors, as many of them have been relieved of this financial burden.

Later this month, the Ministry will launch yet another programme which will also add to the package of programmes designed to assist our older persons. The community based rehabilitation programme, will see officers providing massage therapy to our seniors who have suffered strokes or other illness which have rendered them immobile.

As I join with my fellow colleague Ministers throughout the world in the celebration of International Day of Older Persons, I take this opportunity to urge family members to continue to care for and respect our elderly; cherish them and more importantly let us learn from them.

I wish to applaud the efforts of the Community Caregivers at the Department of Social Services Seniors Division, who are charged with the responsibility of checking on the wellbeing of our elderly on a daily basis.

I also wish to extend birthday greetings to my mother Mrs. Susana Brandy, who is celebrating another great milestone. She turns 90 today and to God we give all the thanks for allowing her to be here with us thus far.

I think also of Mr. William Douglas who will be making a century on October 08, if God allows it, and to Mr. Herman Ward who celebrated his 106th birthday on Tuesday 23rd September. I say happy birthday to all seniors who will be celebrating throughout this month and I wish you many more memorable and peaceful years.

Thank you and may God continue to guide and bless us all.

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